Germany 8th-13th June


19km / 12km

We had a night of rumbling thunder and flashing lightening and enough rain to make us grateful for the shelter of the hut. 

The morning started off with mist below us in the valley 

 but the sun soon burnt it off and we left the hilltop to the parascenders who were starting to set up. 

The walk to the next village took us alongside more cornflower ringed fields  

 and across farmland surrounded by forest where the dogs took off after a deer, scruff’s pack not slowing him down. 

In the village we were lucky to find a shop open for supplies as we’ve been disappointed in a few places that have been deserted and shop less. I came across my first Trabant, the old communist car of the people, and later in the day another that had been “pimped” 
   I’ve been surprised at the lack of old motors here and the Tranny stands out a bit, as it seems do we. There are NO other foreigners here and people sometimes seem wary of us or very curious anyway. Some of the villages are a bit eerily tumbleweed and staring locals, if you actually see anyone. 

The heat was building up rapidly and we were glad to get into the cool of the forest on our way down to the lake. 


There are benches along the trail everywhere, even on the forest.  

   Some have seen better days 

 but they are often just where you want them for a bit of a rest and view.  


We passed through a huge deserted camping site and have seen a few big developments from what looked like 60’s and 70’s that have been abandoned. We wondered if they were communist era workers holiday camps that are no longer wanted. 

At the lake was a popular “Eco” campsite that was dog friendly and had a nice beach so we hung out for awhile and had a swim.  

 It was the campsite with the cabins that we had been looking down on when we slept at the viewpoint two nights earlier. We had to stop for a swim a couple more times that day to cool off and the wooded hills made for a great backdrop while floating on my back amongst the jumping fishes. 

Back on a small forest track we were surprised by a convoy of big bikes.  


At the end of a hot afternoons hiking we came, at last, to an open bar serving food and we quenched our thirst and gambolled with the menu, getting a good result which gave us the strength to climb the last big hill and find a place to erect the tent and mozzy net for the hounds.  


A gun shot in the early night followed later by a lot of stag bellowing made for a disturbed sleep but we made it though unharmed and in the morning I investigated the hide next to us. There are even more hides than benches and they come in a variety of styles from the basic but movable metal ladder strapped to a tree trunk to totally enclosed rooms with a view.  

   The one next to us had carpet and comfy padded seating and magazines to read while awaiting the kill. 

So on our last, short, day on the trail we once again headed off down the wildflower strewn ways  

   and past vast woodpiles outside the old village houses.  


At St Jacob, our highest point of the trail at 560m , there was a church dedicated to the Saint who is the same as St James of Santiago de Compostella and the pilgrimage goes either from or through here.  


A breakfast rest on our last bench 

 was followed by a walk down a lovely fruit tree lined farm track  

 to finally arrive at the platform over the turbine pipes we had seen on our first day on the trail. 

  We had made it.

Just a few km downhill took us back to the van where we gratefully raided the fridge and food cupboards before heading off to a ” proper” campsite for showers and a washing machine. Did some house(van) work, got the awning up and planned our escape. 

Thank you Germany for the forests, wild flowers, benches, huts and trails. 



Bockfelsen to Altenbeuthen  23km

A grey start to the day as we decamped and set off over high ground through the cornflower rich grain fields  


When we reached the lakeside again we were roughly half way along its length and there was a ferry crossing and this strange cruise boat.  


There’s a lot of ups and downs on the route and after climbing up the steep slope through the oak woods we found ourselves on a narrow path under a cliff with a long sheer drop beside us. Steel cable had been attached to the rock to hang on to.  

 More danger lay ahead when we arrived at tape across the track and verboten signs.  

 They were doing some serious tree felling involving big machines and cable lines but we were able to get around them and carry on.  


Eventually coming down into Ziegenruck ,the largest town on the trail, we were still lucky to get to the shop before it shut for a three hour lunch break.  


The place may have been quiet but it had some nice old buildings and a “waterworks ” museum where we picnicked.  


We ended up walking along an abandoned railway bridge and through 200m of tunnel to get back on track 

 and into the woods again which had loads of mimosa growing and scenting the air sweetly. The paths in the trees have mostly been really soft with deep leaf litter and easy on weary feet. They are also full of interesting details.  


We stopped at a lakeside picnic hutte where I had a swim and a wash and then we climbed for the last time up above the trees past some more cabins  

   and finally into another deathly quiet village that luckily had an open pension for us to quench the thirst.  


After being revived from our efforts of the day it was easy enough to make it another km to our bed for the night in a hut with a view.  

 There was a fire pit to use and it was a pity it started to drizzle a bit. This is also a hang gliding or paracending spot and it looks like something’s planned for the weekend cos there is a trailer full of tables and another full of staging parked up. 

And handily a his and hers portaloo. 


From Hohenwarte to Bockfelsen viewpoint 23km

Set off down to the river from our park up above the massive dam wall of the Hohenwartestausee, the lake/ river system / serpentine reservoir were circulating for the next few days. Crossed it on footbridge  

 and entered the woods for a steep climb up to our first “hutte” which still had some Christmas decorations up. 

We got a look at the massive turbine pipes we’ll be crossing in a few days  

 before missing one of our red circle on white background markers and struggling back and forth for awhile before gaining the hilltop ridge at over 500m and getting back on track and stopping to admire the view. 

We came upon an elderly forester doing something strange to the bushes and had a non conversation. We keep throwing in Spanish words when trying to communicate here. I guess it shows some effort to speak a foreign language even if it’s the wrong one. I must say we’re struggling to understand, God help us in Czech, Slovakia, Hungary etc. 

Further down the trail we came across a mineral lick on a stick, presumably for deer.  

 How nice we thought until a few yards on we discovered the shooting hide that was nicely line of sight to the licking deer.  


There was another “hutte” a bit later that had some great wood carvings around it. There have been a lot of wooden sculptures and they are an inspiration for my two scots pine trunks.  


Something else popular are the miniature spirit bottles. We’ve seen them being knocked back a few times and find the empties all over.  


We stopped for a quick naked mud sauna at the Hotel am Stausee (as you do). 


We emerged at the lake side not that far from where we had started about three hours previously passing a row of what was to be a common feature on stretches of shoreline. Cabins.  

 These first were abandoned and shabby but they come in a multitude shapes, sizes and styles and are very often built around, over and even under caravans. Some of the lower orders just have a caravan.  


It was interesting to walk past a long strip of the cobbled together structures all higgle de piggledy along the waterside a lot with nice gardens of flowers.   Some were pretty posh with veranders, decking and pontoons with boats. This was supposed to be a campsite. 

We couldn’t resist the call of a beer garden sign and called in for coffee which soon included large platefulls of food and glasses of local ale. 

On our map we spotted the symbol for an exceptional tree trunk in a couple of km and this one was named ” cliff pine”, so we hurried on with anticipation. It was a scots pine struggling valiantly to grow out of the cliff and doing well.  


The grain fields were frequently ringed with poppies and cornflowers 

 and made for beautiful stretches between the forests, which were also a joy with their cathedral like spaces.  

 Our next stop was the Mooshauschen hutte  

 which had a great view and lovely moss filled internal walls.  

   It also had charming hosts.  

 Don’t know what they were but there were a good few of them in the walls and roof and they were not afraid of us. 

Wilhelmsdorf was the supposed end of the first days walk but we were only calling in to look for dog food but it was another seemingly empty hamlet with plenty of fine houses and civic spaces but nobody about and no shops.  


Back to the woods – mixed mostly conifers of every type in small blocks, thinned selectively and allowed to grow to maturity.  


We ended up for the night camping at a high rocky viewpoint overlooking the water and the cabins beside it.  

   Fell asleep to the sounds of deer, foxes and owls. 


We were on the trail early to avoid the heat we had been experiencing last few days as the hounds had been panting, drinking and diving for shade any chance they got.

The morning light lit the wild flowers and dandelion heads as we headed along the mown paths through the meadows above the town.

Soon we entered a conifer forest on a wide track that reminded me of the Coillte forests back home in Ireland and we wondered what the difference between them might be. We soon discovered some major differences. They don’t have these at home.

Suddenly we were surrounded by the structures of a ski resort with jumps and toboggan runs and lifts and slopes running up the mountain between the blocks of trees.

Pretty impressive. Especially when we spotted the bar and lighting for nighttime activities. Made us realise we were pretty high at about 750 mt in a country that gets a lot of snow.

We got up to 770 mt soon after at a viewpoint on a rocky outcrop where someone had left a momento.

The conifers gave way to a huge coppiced beech forest that had obviously been worked for centuries. Then we descended into Brotterode past the beginners jumps. I had wondered how a beginner practices that sport.

It was a town with mixed architecture. Some nice old bits

 but also a real mishmash in parts. The solar panel covered swimming pool where we had camped up had been good fun. We had frolicked on the long twisting slide and had fun flight img against the current machine and being swirled around in the whirlpool.

Time to move off deeper into rural Germany, to a park up listed in the book at Saalfeld, still in the Thuringen nature park.

On route we stopped at Paulinzella where the plethora of hiking routes included a Camino Way to Santiago ! Now THATS a pilgrimage!

 There was also a local pilgrim way to the Kloster site here, an impressive ruin.
 In the grounds were some great chainsaw sculptures including this one of a chainsaw  

We arrived at the site which turned out to be at a “Fairyland” but it was just closing up so we retired to the trusty tranny ( 1000 miles so far) armed with loads of info on hikes Iin the area.

So we tackled a route from the van first thing this morning which led us through more well managed forest dotted with info huts, picnic huts, compost toilet hut, classroom hut

 and even a bus stop but at the end of a forest track. The sign for this last one was decorated with empty miniature spirit bottles.

 These marvellous woods even have musical instruments to play made from themselves.  

Then it was back down to fairy town

Where you could by fairy soup from fairies.


Some of the fairy products seemed a little risqué

 I guess those were the “bad” fairies.

I couldn’t resist a collection of local ales and some energy cake from the shop where incongruously there was a glass blower.

The energy cake will come in handy over the next few days as we go ever deeper into the heart of rural Germany. We are doing a four day off roader. Taking tent, bivvy bag and rucksack of dried food on a 75km route that goes around a lovely looking lakeland near here.

So we may be out of contact for a bit.